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Black Friday Survival Guide

Braving Black Friday 2011? Arm yourself with our tips on the best deals, the hottest gift ideas and—most importantly—what time the stores open.

What’s on your gift list this year? An Amazon Kindle, a new HDTV or maybe an Xbox 360 or Play Station 3? Are you planning on braving the Black Friday storm of bargain shoppers this year? If so, Patch is here to help you plan your attack.

Black Friday starts early this year with pre-Black Friday sales today. Some stores are skipping Thanksgiving and open for business as usual.Kmart is open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sears is open from 6 a.m. until noon; Boscov’s is open from 8 a.m.  to 1 p.m. Get some shopping in while the turkey is roasting in the oven.

After the turkey is cooked and consumed and people are relaxing with their pie and coffee, Toys 'R Us opens at 9 p.m. with tons of toy deals for Santa’s little helpers. A screening of Harry Potter's newest movie will be starting around 9 p.m. at various Best Buy locations while people wait in line to get in. Walmart is next and opens doors at 10 p.m. and will match any competitor’s price. Many other establishments are opening their doors at midnight. Get ready for some late night shopping. Be safe, shop with a buddy.

Why bother?

If you want a great deal, we found some. Target’s $139.99 Xbox 360 price can’t be beat. A $50 gift card is yours when you purchase an Apple Ipod product at Toys 'R Us and you can purchase the Kindle Fire for $199. Sam’s Club members shopping on Black Friday can buy $100 worth of iTunes gift cards for $79.88. J.C. Penney, Kmart and Old Navy have some incredible deals on clothes. Kmart has puffer jackets for the whole family for $19.99 and you can find jeans to fit everyone at Old Navy for $10-$15. The malls are opening early and will entice shoppers with free gifts and refreshments. Who doesn’t enjoy a goody bag? Maggiano’s is serving a breakfast buffet for $15. You’ve got to eat to keep up your energy.

Some advice

Our best advice is to plan before you head out into Black Friday mania. Check out all the circulars and ads or go online and visit the stores’ websites. In addition to sites like Target.com and Sears.com, there are numerous websites dedicated to providing you with up to the minute Black Friday Deals. Some include comparison charts, sale schedules and valuable tips. Blackfriday.com and BlackFridayAds.net have all the ads available in one place with timely updates. Offers.com will help you find the best deals and possibly save you from waiting in long lines. 

One last bit of practical advice for dedicated Black Friday shoppers: we can’t state it enough but many sales are happening late at night so bring a buddy and be safe.

Find bargains with your smartphone

Mobile apps can keep you on your toes and moving when you’re out and about too. Fatwallet’s mobile app can find you the best prices while you are on the go and Pricegrabber’s mobile app compares in store and online deals. Many stores, like Toys 'R Us offer their own apps to help you with shopping.

We can’t forget about the online Black Friday deals. Many stores are offering online sale prices for Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday sales. Keep in mind that Cyber Monday is only a few days away.

*All deals are subject to change, as always, check with merchant to verify details.

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The following stores are listed in order of opening times:

TOYS 'R US: 9 p.m., Thursday       

Why go: Great selection and prices for toys including electronics, game systems and other favorites

Sweetest deal: $50 gift card with any Apple iPod purchase or any Wii game system or sensor bar

Deals: 9 p.m. Thurs. to 1 p.m. Friday Doorbusters - Furreal Friends Butterscotch Pony, $99.99; buy 1, get 2 free, all Crayola products; Sylvania netbook or tablet, $74.99; Lego Sets, 35 percent off; Leapfrog Leapster 2, $24.99; VTech Kidizoon Camera, $19.99 Deals valid through Saturday - Little Tykes Gourmet Prep 'n Serve playset, $69.99; Xbox 360 4GB Game System with Kinect and a free $10 gift card, $199.99; Sony PS3 160 GB Game System Bundle (with two bonus games and PS3 Power A Wired Controller), $199.99; buy 1 Toys 'R Us pack of batteries, get one free; free $50 gift card with any Apple Ipod purchase; Knex Rippin Rocket2 Coaster,$29.99; Starwars Flying Radio Control Millennium Falcon, $24.99; Hot Wheels Shark Park, $13.49; free $50 gift card when you buy any Wii game system and sensor bar; buy 2, get 2 free Zhu Zhu pets; Kindle Fire, $199.99; DSi Game System, $149.99, DSi xl, $169.99

Additional tips: First 100 customers get Holiday Savings Book with $500 worth of coupons

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WALMART: 10 p.m., Thursday

Why go: Great sale prices on electronics and everything else you might need for gift giving and holiday preparations

Sweetest deal: Wii Limited Edition Blue Console $99.96 includes console, remote plus and nunchuk (only available from 10 p.m. to midnight). Walmart also matches all competitor’s prices

Deals: Emerson 40-inch LCD TV, $248; 51-inch Samsung Plasma Television $498; Amazon Kindle Fire, $199; PSP-3000 Core Pack System, $99.96; Amazon Kindle $79 available on Friday from midnight until Saturday midnight; Sylvania 7-inch Dual Screen Portable DVD Player, $59 all day Friday; KodakC1450 Digital Camera $49 each all day Friday; Xbox 360 4GB console with Gears of War 3 Game, Xbox Live  3-Month Card, $199 and $50 Walmart.com eGift Card valid Nov 25, online times may vary; Wii and Xbox games $10-$28; PlayStation 3 160GB Console with bonus, $199.96, Valid Thursday from 10 p.m. until midnight; Sony PlayStation 3 Bundle includes the system, an extra controller and the games Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One and Little Big Planet 2 for $199; Wii limited edition blue console $99.96 includes console, remote plus and nunchuk available on Thursday from 10 p.m. until midnight; Xbox 360 4GB Console with Kinect for $199.96, includes Kinect Adventures game, wireless controller, composite AV cable, and one-month Xbox Live Gold Membership available from 10 p.m. until midnight; Xbox 360 Kinect Bundle, $99.96 includes Kinect Adventures, The GunStringer and Fruit Ninja games available Thursday from 10 p.m. to midnight; $1.96 DVD movie deals including The Hangover, The Bourne Ultimatum, The Unknown, Marley & Me and Hall Pass

Additional tips: Some deals are only available during specified times so plan accordingly. Visit walmart.com and print out a map of your local store labeled with locations of Black Friday specials. And remember, Walmart will match any price you find over Thanksgiving weekend.

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BEST BUY: Midnight, Friday

Why go: TVs, Game Systems, Electronics7 and enjoy a big screen outdoor showing of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, Part Two at 9 p.m.

Sweetest deal: Sharp 42-inch 1080P LCD TV, $199.99

Deals: Sharp 42-inch 1080P LCD TV $199.99; Toshiba Blu-ray player, $39.99; Samsung Laptop/Intel Pentium Processor/15.6” display/4GB Memory/320GB Hard Drive, $299.99; HTC, ThunderBolt Mobile Phone - Charcoal Gray (Verizon Wireless), free with two-year contract; LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer Learning Tablet, $99.99; Barnes & Noble NOOK, The Simple Touch Reader, $79.99; PlayStation 3 Console Bundle, $199.99 Xbox 360 console with Fable III and Halo Reach, $200

Additional tips: Best Buy will have limited quantities of their doorbusters. Several locations will have an outdoor screening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. The Cherry Hill Best Buy will be showing the movie and WMMR will be giving away gifts and prizes, starting at 9 p.m. Thanksgiving night. Visit this site for other participating Best Buy locations.

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TARGET: Midnight, Friday

Why go: Target’s got it all, great prices on netbooks, game systems, televisions, e-readers, clothes and necessities, and they’re giving away gift cards with purchases of iPods, game systems and electronics.

Sweetest deal: Xbox 360 console, $139.99

Deals: Xbox 360 console, $139.99; Westinghouse 46-inch 1080p HDTV, $298; Amazon Kindle 3G Keyboard, $85; free $40 gift card when you buy the 8GB iPod touch for $195; free $15 gift card when you buy the 8GB apple iPod nano; Phillips Dual DVD Player, $99.99; Acer 10.1 netbook, $157; Casio 61 key electric keyboard, $59; Sony PlayStation 3 bundle with two games and 30-day PlayStation Plus membership, $199; WII games Zumba Fitness 2 and Just Dance 3, $39.99 ($10 gift card with purchase); Nintendo 3DS Bundle with Super Mario 3D Land Game, $179.99; Beats by Dr. Dre Solo Headphones, $179.99 ($50 gift card with purchase)

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MACY’S: Midnight, Friday

Why go: Jewelry, small kitchen gadgets, perfume, designer clothes and handbags, lots of “buy 1, get one free” deals

Sweetest deal: $149 for a sapphire and diamond set including ring, earrings and pendant

Deals: Doorbuster deals available from midnight to 1 p.m. include 40 percent off all coffee makers, tea kettles and espresso makers; Black and Decker waffle maker, 16 cup rice maker or Bella griddle, only $9.99; Buy 1 sweater and get a free pair of jeans; buy 1 sweater, get one free; 8-piece bed ensembles only $39.99; sapphire/diamond set, diamond accent hoops or diamond accent 14-carat gold earrings, $149  

Additional Tips: Don’t forget about Macy’s passes, $10 off a purchase of $25 or more. Clip from Macy’s Black Friday ad.

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SEARS: 4 a.m., Friday

Why Go: Sears has a huge variety of items ranging from Lands End clothing to jewelry to refrigerators and lawnmowers and over 500 Black Friday doorbusters from 4 a.m. until 1 p.m.

Sweetest Deal: Free tool bag for the handyman or woman in your life, with $20 tool purchase

Deals: Free tool bag with $20 tool purchase; Craftsman C-3 19.2 volt drill, $39.99; 2-carat diamond jewelry, on sale for $99.99, (regularly $499.99); Nintendo 3DS, Flame Red 3DS with Super Mario Plus 3D Land game; get a $10 free gift card with purchase, $199.99; PlayStation 3 Holiday Bundle, includes 160 GB entertainment system; Ratchet and Clank, All for One PS3 game; and Little Big Planet 2 Special Edition PS3 game, $199.99; Zenith 50-inch 1080 plasma TV, $499.99; Sony 55-inch Class 3D LED 1080p 120Hz Smart TV, including a Free Sony 5.1 channel 1000 watt 3D Blue Ray Home Theater 4 System, $1,698.99; Kenmore 3.5 cubic foot washer or 7.3 cubic foot dryer, $469.99 until 1 p.m.

Additional Tips: Buy online and pick up in store.

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OTHER BLACK FRIDAY DEALS, STEALS AND GIVEAWAYS

OLD NAVY’s Gobble Palooza starts at midnight on Thanksgiving and offers three days of savings, including jeans for mom and dad at $15 and $10 for babies and kids jeans. Wool Blend Pea Coats are $19.99 for babies and kids and $29.99 for adults. Sleepwear for only $8 to $10 and kids fleece and family tees for $5. In addition to all of those savings, they are giving away a free Kodak EasyShare Bundle with any $40 purchase, while supplies last.

STAPLES opens at 6 a.m. with early bird specials until noon. Amazon Kindle Wifi for $79, Nook Color and Blackberry Tablets for $199.

On your way out to shop on Friday, stop by BURGER KING for a free 12 oz. Seattle's Best Coffee Friday only.

Whew, that covers it—or does it? Let us know if we missed anything by adding your favorite Black Friday find to the comments below. 

Happy and safe shopping to all!

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